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Posts posted by senorblues

  1. Played a trio gig at a restaurant yesterday. . . . . elevated deck with a beautiful view of the Maine coast. The crowd ran the gamut from folks in their 80s down to toddlers. A few people watched us intently, but everyone was silent at the end of each song. Undaunted, I said a few words from time to time, but mostly kept things moving. At the end of the set, I walked through the crowd to get to the bar, and someone from each table turned to tell me how much they liked us! By the end of the second set, we had some banter going, occasional applause including folks sitting at a lower level deck who couldn't see us! How curious that it often takes a set before people warm up to you enough to clap and talk back to you!?

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  2. I'd worked with this drummer in the past and found that he doesn't like to um.....stick to a standard beat and could go off the rails with a little, shall we say, improve occasionally. I've talked to others that have worked with him since that time and tell me they find it difficult to work with him for similar reasons.


    If you want to start a band, you'd better be the musical anchor of the project. Having said that, the lead singer chair is often the most important in a band, and often we avoid them simply because the economics of the circuit you play means you can't afford to pay someone who doesn't also play an instrument. Virtually all the venues up here are simply too small.

  3. They replaced the smallish tent with a seriously large one. No rain at all, as it turned out. Now, about those mosquitos at low tide . . . .


    I just noticed that a gig we have next month says "weather permitting" It's a restaurant patio gig. It's rarely hot up here; we're more concerned about how long we can stretch the season into the fall before outdoor gigs won't work.


    But my original question remains unanswered. Under what conditions do you expect to get paid? When can they cancel?





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  4. I don't think anyone's mentioned this, but I'm always interested in what instrument the person forming the band plays. A drummer is the last person who should be forming a band unless you already have a reputation that can get gigs sight unseen. Good drummers are busy because they can play in multiple projects with less rehearsal time than pretty much anyone else.


    Most groups will revolve around the lead vocal. That's who should be forming the band, and if they need a musical director, that's the first chair you fill.


    Depends on what your aspirations are. If you're happy to jam in the basement or play out for gas money, invite guys who can demonstrate that they are comfortable with the genre you're looking for. Around here, the musical landscape is littered with self-taught players who just want to play and don't have delusions about being successful. I'll bet the drummer in the original post doesn't have any recordings to share that will demonstrate that he actually knows how to play.

  5. Have you asked the owner or booking agent what the policy or backup plan is in the event of rain? I'd start there...


    I did, but haven't heard back.


    I'm finding that a lot of venues are new to all this, so this may not have happened to them yet.

  6. Fathers Day trio gig at an oyster bar. It's converted gas station - picnic table with umbrellas and a stage tent set up in front of one of the bays. Oddly enough, I haven't played a lot of outdoor gigs and I'm wondering what sort of rainout policy to expect. 50% chance all day . . .

  7. A lot of venues . . . .

    . . . promote your gig on FB a night or two before.

    . . . have past dates posted on their "events" page, but few if any upcoming gigs.

    . . . promote weekend band dates, but not solos and duos during the week.

    . . . expect you to tell your friends, which is fine, except most of my friends don't live anywhere near the venue - an hour's drive or a day's drive - but nearly all the folks that "like" your venue live close by.


    I don't understand . . .

  8. No not charts necessarily. I mean guys that go up there doing things just enough to get by. That get's old real quick. There is an in-between. You can read charts' date=' be a hobby band and rehearsed and still sound professional. It's just that a lot of people are lazy and then can't figure out why they can't get ahead. If you want to do something or be something better just do it better than others around you. It's pretty simple.[/quote']


    Short story..... a start up a couple of years ago. Band leader / guitar player gives us a list of fourteen songs for the first session and was astounded when I brought in fourteen printed charts I'd put together. Bass player knew one song and had no clue about most of the others. I went to one more session, then quit.


    I wish it was easier to assess the work ethic of musicians you're considering bringing to your project or joining. . . .

  9. That's crazy. I don't put up with that stuff. Life's too short to play with guys that want to wing everything. You can be a hobby band and still sound professional.


    You lost me . . . I've cast my lot with guys that have musical training. I've seen way too many hobby bands that are "well rehearsed", but their rhythms, changes, signatures lines and lead vocals are boring or flat out wrong. That's the best they can do and it isn't going to change.


    Reading charts isn't "winging it" . . . or maybe I've misunderstood you.

  10. I went to a garage jam once where the host had multiple laminated copies of the lead sheets for a boatload of songs. I went to another house jam a while back where the host had a boatload of lead sheets but there were no chords, only lyrics. Gee, Thanks!


    I tend to overthink things, but tell me why this won't work . . . " I'm coming to your jam next week. Can you send me a set list with keys? Here's mine. If I sing a few of them, can you play 'em?


    I’m ok with subbing. Just give me the set list, the key we are playing in and let me know of any serious deviations from the standard version and I’m usually ready to go.


    Send me recordings if you have them. I don’t want to rehearse with you guys.


    If it is the type of material that requires much more effort than that? The pay better be really good.


    If you're dealing with professionals, this approach should make sense, but I've learned that in the current musical environment, you're wise not to make that assumption. Hobby bands can't imagine that you can play a gig without a rehearsal. They are also more likely to have made changes to the original version for a a variety of reasons. And their very existence is based on the premise that rehearsing is the main reason they're doing this. It's fun, right!? Recordings? Since sounding good isn't the point, why would you have any? Most bands up here have nothing on line and nothing in the vault to send you.

  12. I understand and have empathy for your situation. You know this' date=' but the club owners don't care what you play as long as the patrons are drinking, eating, and having a good time. Have you tried changing your set list, doing more advertising\marketing, seeking other venues, signing with a booking agency, etc.? [/quote']


    The central issue remains. . . . . Who is responsible for getting patrons to the venue? It isn't me; it's the venue! It's their reputation and their marketing. I'm responsible for making sure they enjoy themselves and somehow also spend money in the process. If they enjoy themselves and if the venue hires me often enough so that they recognize that this will be the place to come see me, then it will be self-sustaining. assuming the venue, not me, makes an effort to post a schedule and otherwise promote the event.


    I live in small town, USA. There are no agents.

  13. Drums are problematic...and it is a matter of space and a matter of volume. I have worked with drummers who can keep their volume totally under control' date=' down to a whisper... [i']rara avis.... [/i]and drum kits, unless it is a 'cocktail kit', take up a lot of real estate, far more than a saxophonist.

    Drum machines, although not able to help load in/out, are a better alternative for solo/duos.


    Drums aren't necessarily problematic. There's a solution for every issue you've listed, but what hasn't been mentioned is the bass function. They go together . . . can't see having one without the other.

  14. This place has music all the time? It doesn't sound too conducive to it though? How important is it that you play there. Is there a lack of venues around where you are?


    There are plenty of venues, but they're almost all small and the hobby bands playing to friends for $150 - $250 is the model everyone seems to follow. It's hard to tell how often they book music because they don't keep their "events" pages up to date.

  15. Dave, I think you've assumed that he's going to book me on a regular schedule which, as you say, would allow him to determine whether there's been an increase in the ring on my nights over time. There are a couple venues here that book that way - "Uncle Carl" every second Sunday - but most don't get it. We're lucky if they keep their web page calendar and Facebook events page current. Even if it's a wallpaper gig, why wouldn't you??

  16. My perspective as a R&R/R&B bandmate who went solo five years ago because the venues in the part of the country I moved to are too small to draw a regular crowd large enough to support a band. . . .


    Since you can sing, the question becomes, are you looking for someone to support you, or will you support them? This is a music question but also a marketing question because the face of the group will have to get the gigs, and up here, if you don't have a reputation, you'll play second fiddle to long time locals who have a following.


    I gather you can play styles outside the 20s/40s repertoire you've been doing. I've tried to add songs from a variety of genres . . . . and I think it's backfired because if they hear a tune from a genre they're not used to, they'll reconsider, even if they like what they heard initially. Be clear about the venues you want to hire you and the genre you will offer them.

  17. The Open Mic scene is a breeding ground for guys that go on to form bands that play for gas money and get hired locally because they can get a few friends to show up. Pro trios or larger have no where to play if they expect to get even $100/night. The rooms are too small and rarely promote. A lot of guys who can actually play have given up so a venue whose marketing focused on quality music would have a hard time filling slots with competent groups.


    I'm talking about small towns, 2,000 population on average, but the only "city" in the state is dominated by venues that fill several slots a week with "bands' willing to play for tips.


    Basically, nobody seems to care about good music.

  18. Hello ****,

    We’re booked for March 1, but I just remembered that March 5 is Mardi Gras! Given that that’s my primary musical influence, I was hoping I could talk you into letting me bring my drummer so we can do that whole second line thing right. I also think that’s the lineup you’ll want to hire going forward, so I’m willing to give you a price break for the duo.


    If you like, I’ll make a poster. Thanks for considering the idea.




    sounds interesting ... what are you looking for for compensation and are we talking about a 6 to 9 show time? that's a tuesday correct?




    I was assuming modifying the Friday gig, but doing Tuesday - the real deal - is fine. Instead of or in addition to the solo Friday gig? I agreed to knock $25 off my solo rate - from $150 to $125. I’ll do the same for the duo rate - $250 to $225.




    okay, you are a retiree. Are you doing this more to make money or to have fun and keep active? I don't make (**scat**) off music... I'll give you $100 for solo and I'll still lose money or $150 for the duo and I'll lose even more money, but I like music. So there ya go... if no, no hard feelings.





    Years ago, I used to play music full time on the road - six nights a week. It was my only source of income. No cover charge; the added ring at the venue paid for the music. Since then, for a lot of reasons, the business has been taken over by hobby bands and solo pros. I’ve paid my dues, but more importantly, the guys I play with, including ******, the drummer, and *******, the guitar player on the trio clip you heard, pay their bills by playing and teaching. They're not going anywhere for less than $100 each. You like music; I’m sure you - and your clients - can hear the difference.


    I’m semi-retired. I still tune pianos. Should I cut my rates in half since I no longer have to tune four pianos a day? Same amount of work . . . .


    It looks to me like every venue feels like they need live music to draw customers, but the quality of music they hire doesn’t bring in customers who spend enough money to make you a profit.


    We had agreed to $125 for a solo gig March 1. You were interested in the concept of adding a drummer for Mardi Gras. What do you think I should pay my drummer?




    Hi ****

    I certainly don't mean to insult you. And I am sorry if my message seemed insulting. I realize that you are a professional musician, no doubt your drummer is as well. However, unless you have a personal following of 10-15 drinkers who will show up for your show. I won't make a nickle. If it is a duo asking for $200 we'd need 20 of your people to show up.


    My clients are going to show up with or without music, we're a regulars place. There are times when the right musicians can have a big draw -- we had (local hobby band) last weekend. 65 people showed up and swilled $1700 worth of beer and whiskey. They have a following of partying friends, most of the band member live in the (local towns) area. The band got paid $450 and some restaurant credits.


    An argument can be made that I have live music as a building block, an overhead, something that defines the atmosphere of (venue). By in large I agree with that. We have live music every weekend. Most times the individual musician is not the draw in and of him/her self. It is music for the sake of music. The same 10-20 people show up no matter who is playing... they hang around all night if the person is decent. They are the subset of our customer base who are under 40. Sometimes the music can drive them away.


    March 1st is a Friday. A piano man starting early enough would have been a nice treat for my 60 people strong guaranteed dinner crowd. The crowd that complains my music always starts too late... they are going to be there anyway, but they would enjoy your music. $125 would be the high end of what I could offer. Solos I usually pay between $80 and $100. There are couple guys I like, think are really good, and who have made friends with my clients so I pay them $125... but all of those people start after dinner and appeal to the late night crowd.


    March 5th is a Tuesday... promoting a Mardi Gras evening would be hit or miss, I have no idea how many people give a damn about it. It's dicey to think a lot of people would turn up, yours or mine. Tuesdays I have Cribbage tournaments... 8-16 people show up, play cards, drink beer ... It costs me zero. And If we have 20-30 people come in for dinner that night it would be considered a big night -- so it's not a big enough crowd to reward with some special music that they weren't expecting. That's why I can only offer $100 or $150 for a duo; big risk nobody shows up and it interferes with a proven draw.


    We're face with an age old situation. Musicians want to get paid money that reflects their talent and dedication to their art. I get that. But bar owners want to pay based on increased sales. Sometimes those two positions can align, sometimes they can't.


    I think my question, of being in it to make money or to have fun, is a fair one and I did not pose it to be flippant. One way or another what we can afford is a pittance. Including travel to and from a gig, setting up, playing, and then packing up a musician has about a 5 hour time commitment plus gas expenses. At $100 it works out to $20 or $25 an hour as compensation for a life time of building a skill. Not much. So I always look for guys or women who are in it for fun then there is no haggling and everyone has a better time with it.




    I appreciate your thoughtful response. If more venues and musicians took the time to communicate honestly, the restaurant/bar/music scene would be a lot healthier for all concerned.


    You’re right about the Tuesday slot. I probably wasn’t as clear as I needed to be about proposing the duo format as an upgrade to my Friday solo slot, not the following Tuesday. I was suggesting that we promote it jointly as a special event to coincide with Mardi Gras and that that would bring in at least twenty people who otherwise wouldn’t have come, but more importantly, I was thinking long term. If the people who are there like what they hear, and if we’re booked the first Friday of every month, and if it’s posted on our Facebook events and website, eventually that first Friday slot would be a day to look forward to. It’s that kind of following - one that is tied to your venue, not merely friends of the band - which used to be the standard marketing model and still is in a few places.


    I don’t know much about the personal finances of the musicians I work with, but clearly the fee for playing, small though it may be, helps pay the bills if they’re in regular rotation at enough venues. That isn’t to say that enjoying the music isn’t important. They wouldn’t have agreed to commit to my project if that wasn’t the case. What’s key here is that we’ve put a lot more work into refining our craft than the hobby bands. We have to believe that the music that comes out of that effort is something both clients and venues recognize and enjoy.


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